Nick, aged 58 from Braintree, has fostered between 30 and 40 young people over the last 16 years; all of which have been teenagers.
“It’s such a positive thing to be working with these teenagers. They have often had many chances taken away from them already and experienced much disappointment. They often crave some stability and routine. I love showing them that there is a better way and instilling some self-worth in them, so they can have a happier life”.
Nick is now encouraging potential foster carers to consider opening their home to older children and young adults. He also wants to bust some of the myths surrounding who can foster.
“As a single parent with foster children aged 14, 17 and 18, and a biological son aged 16, I appreciate that I’m not what most people would consider as a typical foster carer. Yes, it can be incredibly busy at times doing it alone but it’s also extremely rewarding and gives me a sense of purpose. It just shows that those from all walks of life can do it successfully”.
In 2020, up to 500 children in Essex are expected to come into care and Essex County Council is urging more foster carers, like Nick, to help transform their lives.
More foster carers are needed in Essex on a full and part-time basis for either short or long-term placements with Essex County Council offering high-quality bespoke local training.
Foster carers can be single, married, from a same-sex family or retired and there is an active network of support groups providing opportunities to meet and learn from other foster carers. Many go on to make long-term friendships.
Cllr Louise McKinlay, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Essex County Council said: “While the world outside might have ground to a standstill because of Coronavirus, life goes on for children and parents in crisis.
A high proportion of the children who come into foster care are over the age of ten, so we desperately need carers like Nick to help with that age group”.
Nick uses his own life experiences running a business as an electrical contractor to help shape the support he offers the teenagers he cares for.
“I think it’s important to show our teenagers the many different avenues one can take in life. I have friends who didn’t do so well academically but now have their own successful businesses. It just shows our young people that they may not be flying high in school but there is always something they can do to the best of their abilities”.
Nick is recommending that anyone thinking about fostering should just pick up the phone and enquire; they may be surprised at just how suitable they are and how much they get back in return.